<
>

How good is your NFL coach on fourth-down calls? We rank all 32

play
Why Rex considers 2021 Belichick's best season ever (1:34)

Ryan Clark and Rex Ryan react to the Patriots' victory over the Titans that extended their winning streak to six games. (1:34)

The NFL is about to set a record for most fourth-down attempts in a season.

Again.

Coaches are on pace to dial up 838 fourth-down tries in 2021, up from 780 the year prior. (Even if this were a 16-game season, they'd be on track for a 788 attempts.) It will mark the fourth consecutive year a new high has been established.

Not only are coaches going for it more on fourth down, they're getting better at making those calls that give them the best chance to win. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the number of fourth-down errors has plummeted each of the past four seasons, reaching a new low of 951 leaguewide in 2020 and on pace for even fewer this season.

The increased application of analytics has changed the game on fourth down. Coaches across the league are being guided by game-management specialists who communicate the probabilities of an upcoming fourth-down try in real time.

The most famous example came in Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. Before Eagles coach Doug Pederson had his sideline conversation with quarterback Nick Foles, leading to the decision to run the "Philly Special" late in the first half, Pederson spoke with Ryan Paganetti, the Dartmouth grad responsible for feeding Pederson math-based recommendations when it came to, among other things, going for it on fourth down.

Anticipating such a situation, Paganetti clicked into Pederson's headset prior to the Eagles' third-and-goal play against the Patriots and told him: If we get to fourth down, the light is green.

And the rest is history.

League sources estimate 28 of 32 head coaches have game-management specialists, with about 10 of those being members of the team's analytics department. The trend of teams being more aggressive on fourth down is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The practice is becoming more widely accepted and is likely to be commonplace before long.

Is your team ahead of the curve? Here's a look at how each head coach stacks up. -- Tim McManus

How we rank: To come up with our coaches ranking, we looked at all fourth-down calls made under the current head coach with his current team. (For example, for Mike McCarthy, we would only include fourth-down calls made with the Cowboys, not the Packers.) The timeframe was limited to 2017-21, when analytics were firmly established across the league. We relied on three metrics from the ESPN Analytics team:

  1. Total win probability sacrificed through fourth-down errors

  2. Difference in expected fourth-down conversion rates vs. actual rates

  3. Non-obvious fourth-down error rate

These metrics are shown as per-season averages and measure whether the coach's decision agreed with our analytics model (accounting for two-thirds of the final ranking) as well as success in running fourth-down plays (one-third). All 32 coaches were sorted on those metrics and then those rankings were used to create the final order.

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

1. Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 18.7% (Rank: 7)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 6.5% (Rank: 1)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 20.2% (Rank: 2)

Most notable fourth-down call: Down 33-31 Week 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings with 6:12 left in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals faced a fourth-and-5 from the Vikings' 44. Quarterback Kyler Murray hit wide receiver Christian Kirk on a 35-yard pass that put Arizona at the Vikings' 6 and four plays later, kicker Matt Prater hit a 27-yard field goal that put the Cardinals up 34-33 and wound up being the deciding score. It helped the Cardinals improve to 2-0, which eventually became 7-0. The game could be a crucial NFC win depending on how the standings shake out in January. -- Josh Weinfuss


2. Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 15.3% (Rank: 4)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 3.7% (Rank: 5)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 22% (Rank: 5)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Packers were facing fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line, down 31-23 to the Buccaneers with 2:09 left in the 2020 NFC Championship Game. LaFleur took the ball out of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' hands and called for a field goal. The Packers never got the ball back and the Buccaneers ran out the clock on their way to the Super Bowl. -- Rob Demovsky


3. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 14.6% (Rank: 3)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 2.9% (Rank: 8)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 21.6% (Rank: 7)

Most notable fourth-down call: In October 2019, the Ravens were tied at 13 in Seattle midway through the third quarter and faced a fourth-and-2 at the Seahawks' 8-yard line. After sending out Justin Tucker for a field goal, Harbaugh saw the upset look on quarterback Lamar Jackson's face and asked him if he wanted to go for it. Jackson responded, "Let's get it" and then fought his way to the end zone by running "quarterback power" for a touchdown in a 30-16 victory. This moment kick-started Jackson's MVP season and showed why he is the winningest quarterback since taking over in Baltimore in the middle of the 2018 campaign. "This guy is a competitor of the nth degree," Harbaugh said at the time. "And it showed today. You saw that fire." -- Jamison Hensley


4. Robert Saleh, New York Jets

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 18.4% (Rank: 6)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 1.3% (Rank: 12)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 18.8% (Rank: 1)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 1, the Jets trailed the Panthers 3-0 in the second quarter and faced a fourth-and-1 at the Panthers' 42. The Jets ran inside and running back Tevin Coleman was stopped for a 1-yard loss. Saleh, in his first game, showed an aggressive side -- but it backfired and set a tone for the season. On the ensuing play, the Panthers scored on a 57-yard touchdown pass to take control of the game. The Jets have been reeling pretty much ever since. -- Rich Cimini


5. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 16.1% (Rank: 5)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 0% (Rank: T-14)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 21.1% (Rank: 5)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 14 of 2018, the Chiefs had fourth-and-9 at their 40 trailing the Ravens 24-17 with 1:29 left in the game. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was flushed from the pocket to his right by pressure. While on the run he threw the ball across his body back to the middle of the field and got an improbable 48-yard completion to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs went on to score the tying touchdown (also on fourth down) with 53 seconds left. They went on to win in overtime and the victory allowed the Chiefs to take the No. 1 seed into the AFC playoffs. -- Adam Teicher


6. Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 10.2% (Rank: 1)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -20.9% (Rank: 31)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 20.5% (Rank: T-3)

Most notable fourth-down call: During Week 2 of the 2021 season, the Eagles had a fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line, holding a 3-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers. Sirianni dialed up a Philly Special-like trick play, with wideout Greg Ward getting the ball on a reverse and looking to pass to quarterback Jalen Hurts in the end zone. But the Niners were all over it, and Ward had to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone. Afterward, Sirianni said he regretted the playcall, but not the decision to go for it. The Eagles' win probability dropped by about seven-tenths of a percentage point, the sharpest decline on any of their fourth-down plays this season, in a losing effort. The Niners went on to win 17-11. -- Tim McManus


7. David Culley, Houston Texans

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 19.7% (Rank: 9)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 2.2% (Rank: T-10)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 24.2% (Rank: 18)

Most notable fourth-down call: Early in the second quarter against the Browns with the score tied at 7, wide receiver Brandin Cooks gained 13 yards on third-and-15, but the Browns were called for an offside penalty. This gave Culley the chance to give the offense another shot on third-and-10 or decline the penalty and try to convert a fourth-and-2 from midfield. Instead, he declined the penalty and punted. The Browns got a touchback. The next day Culley said, "If I had to do that again I would take the penalty. And give our offense a chance to get the first down, which I should have done." The call showed Culley's inexperience as a first-time head coach in a big situation. -- Sarah Barshop


8. Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns

Years covered: 2020-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 13.1% (Rank: 2)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -12.9% (Rank: 30)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 21.2% (Rank: 6)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Browns had fourth-and-9 from their own 32 with 4:19 remaining in the second round of the 2020 playoffs at Kansas City, which held a 22-17 lead. Cleveland, which has been among the most aggressive teams to go for it on fourth down under Stefanski, punted instead, hoping to get the ball back. It never did, as Kansas City iced the game on backup quarterback Chad Henne's fourth-and-1 completion, eliminating the Browns. -- Jake Trotter


9. Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers

Years covered: 2020-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 27.2% (Rank: T-22)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 4.2% (Rank: 4)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 23.4% (Rank: T-13)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Panthers faced fourth-and-3 at their 32, down 24-21 with 3:05 remaining against Washington in Week 11 this season. Quarterback Cam Newton threw a short pass to running back Christian McCaffrey that was stopped less than a yard shy of a first down. First, the Panthers had been set to punt because that's what analytics said to do with that much time and all three timeouts remaining. Then they burned a timeout to make the decision to go for it, because Newton didn't know all of the two-minute package after having one full week of practice. Then Newton didn't get the ball to McCaffrey beyond the first-down marker. It led to a Washington field goal that meant Newton needed to lead a touchdown drive in the final minute, which he couldn't do, and Carolina lost 27-21. -- David Newton


10. Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 19.6% (Rank: 8)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -6.6% (Rank: 24)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 22.7% (Rank: T-10)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 10 of this season, Minnesota led the Los Angeles Chargers 27-20 and faced a fourth-and-2 from the L.A. 32-yard line. Quarterback Kirk Cousins handed the ball off to running back Dalvin Cook, who gained 4 yards to pick up the first down. The Vikings kneeled out the clock and beat the Chargers. This was the start of the Vikings' new-found aggressiveness. Zimmer didn't want to risk giving the ball back to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert with over two minutes to play. The run from Cook allowed Minnesota to ice the game and snap a two-game losing streak with an important road win. -- Courtney Cronin


11. Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys

Years covered: 2020-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 21.7% (Rank: 11)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 0% (Rank: T-14)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 26.2% (Rank: T-19)

Most notable fourth-down call: Facing fourth-and-10 at their own 24, the Cowboys trailed Washington 20-16 in the fourth quarter. They were in the game, despite the death of strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul the night before. McCarthy OK'd a fake punt, and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson lost a yard. Washington scored on its next play and ended up winning 41-16. McCarthy knew his team was emotionally spent and tried to inject some energy into the unit, but it backfired. -- Todd Archer


12. Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 24.1% (Rank: 17)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -10.5% (Rank: 27)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 20.5% (Rank: T-3)

Most notable fourth-down call: It was fourth-and-7 at the Dallas 32-yard line, with the Falcons down 7-3 to the Cowboys with 4:12 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Russell Gage, giving the ball back to Dallas. Yes, it was in the first quarter, but the play set the reality of the game for the Falcons: They weren't going to be able to win by settling for field goals. The game devolved into a 43-3 blowout win for Dallas. Atlanta's failure versus New England on fourth-and-1, when running back Qadree Ollison couldn't gain a yard in a 13-0 game in the red zone during the third quarter, also was under consideration. -- Michael Rothstein


T-13. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 29.4% (Rank: 27)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 0.1% (Rank: 13)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 22.1% (Rank: 9)

Most notable fourth-down call: In their 2019 regular-season finale, the Seahawks trailed San Francisco 26-21 with 12 seconds left, facing fourth-and-goal from the 5. Quarterback Russell Wilson hit tight end Jacob Hollister on an in route over the middle, and he was stopped inches from the goal line by a pair of 49ers defenders. A touchdown would have given the Seahawks a victory and the NFC West championship, but their loss meant opening the playoffs at Philadelphia as a wild-card team, before losing in the divisional round at Green Bay. -- Brady Henderson


T-13. Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 21.9% (Rank: 12)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -3.9% (Rank: 22)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 23.6% (Rank: 15)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Dolphins were tied 20-20 with the Jaguars in the fourth quarter of a 2021 Week 5 game played in London -- in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's first game back from injured reserve. Out of shotgun formation, Tagovailoa handed the ball off to Malcolm Brown, who was quickly wrapped up by Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Jacksonville got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining and kicked a game-winning field goal with time expiring, snapping a 20-game losing streak and spoiling Tagovailoa's return. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques


T-15. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 20.4% (Rank: 10)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -11.6% (Rank: 28)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 23.2% (Rank: 12)

Most notable fourth-down call: Down 24-12 in the AFC Championship Game following the 2020 season, the Bills had the ball and were facing fourth-and-3 at the Chiefs' 8-yard line with 5:52 left in the third quarter. McDermott elected to send kicker Tyler Bass out for the Bills' second field goal try of the day within the Chiefs' 10-yard line. Bass made the 27-yard attempt, but the Bills lost the game 38-24. The lack of aggressiveness on fourth down hurt the Bills' chances of bouncing back on the road one game away from the Super Bowl. "I thought about going for it on both occasions," McDermott said. "Maybe if I had to do it over again, I would have went for maybe one of them." -- Alaina Getzenberg


T-15. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 27.2% (Rank: T-22)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 3.2% (Rank: 7)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 26.2% (Rank: T-19)

Most notable fourth-down call: The No. 1-seeded Saints were trailing the Eagles 14-0 in the divisional round of the 2018 playoffs when Sean Payton dialed up a fake punt on fourth-and-1 from New Orleans' own 30-yard line. Taysom Hill took the direct snap and ran four yards -- and the Saints went on to score on a fourth-and-goal call when quarterback Drew Brees completed a 2-yard pass to wideout Keith Kirkwood. Those bold calls drastically changed the game. The Saints went on to win 20-14, before losing to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game (which included a gutsy fake punt by Rams coach Sean McVay). -- Mike Triplett


17. Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts

Years covered: 2018-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 24.5% (Rank: 18)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -1% (Rank: 17)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 23.8% (Rank: 16)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Colts were facing fourth-and-4 from their own 43-yard line in overtime against the Texans in 2018. After an attempt to draw the Texans offside failed, the Colts called timeout, met with quarterback Andrew Luck and brought the offense back on the field. Luck's throw landed at wide receiver Chester Rogers' feet, giving Houston a short field to work with to win the game. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson completed a 24-yard pass to wideout DeAndre Hopkins one play later to put the Texans in position for a Ka'imi Fairbairn 37-yard field goal to win the game.

The loss was the second straight for the Colts, but that was secondary in the big picture for Reich and Colts. It was the moment that the players bought into Reich, who was in his first year as a head coach. "Frank, I knew from that point on, he had the locker room," Colts general manager Chris Ballard later said. "He had them. Because he believed in them, and he supported them, and he took the bullet for them. That's the beautiful thing. That is a unique thing in our profession." -- Mike Wells


18. Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 22.6% (Rank: 14)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 0% (Rank: T-14)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 26.8% (Rank: 22)

Most notable fourth-down call: Look no further than the opener of the 2021 season. The Bengals led the Vikings 21-7 and were cruising in the third quarter when the Bengals decided to attempt a fourth-and-1 on their own 30-yard line. It didn't work. Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon slipped and was stuffed for no gain, giving the Vikings a lifeline. Minnesota took advantage, scored on the ensuing drive thanks to a fourth-down touchdown pass and got back into the game. Even though the execution failed, it clearly showed the intent the Bengals were going to play with during a pivotal campaign. That was evident when Cincinnati attempted a fourth-and-1 in the final minute of overtime, a play that proved to be successful and set up the team's 27-24 win in Week 1. -- Ben Baby


19. Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 22.2% (Rank: 13)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -25.8% (Rank: 32)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 22.7% (Rank: T-10)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 7, on the road against the Los Angeles Rams, the Lions trailed 17-16 on fourth-and-8 with at 10:02 in the third quarter. Safety C.J. Moore fielded the snap in punt formation and went 28 yards around the left end to the Rams 37. The Lions were unable to get any points on the drive, but they showed on this play that they were willing to think outside the box to go for a win. -- Eric Woodyard


20. Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans

Years covered: 2018-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 23.9% (Rank: 16)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -6.2% (Rank: 23)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 24.1% (Rank: 17)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Titans were facing a fourth-and-1 at the Texans' 3-yard line in the second quarter of Week 12 of the 2018 season. Vrabel decided to go for it by running a fullback belly play with tight end Luke Stocker, who was stuffed for no gain. The Texans took over, and Lamar Miller scooted 97 yards for a touchdown to put the game away. Going for it on fourth down wasn't the issue. Deciding to give the ball to Stocker, who had zero NFL rushing attempts up to that point, was. The loss gave the Titans a 5-6 record and dampened their playoff chances. -- Turron Davenport


21. Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 26.6% (Rank: 21)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 2.2% (Rank: 11)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 27.5% (Rank: T-24)

Most notable fourth-down call: It's all about context for Fangio. Heading into the 2021 season, Fangio ranked last among his peers in going for it on fourth down; so when he went for it on fourth three times in the season opener this year then two more times in Week 2 -- the Broncos went 5-for-5 on those -- it showed a definite change of heart. The most important was in Week 1, again because of context, when trailing the Giants 7-3 late in the first half. Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Giants' 49-yard line, Fangio went for it despite the threat of the Giants having the field position for more points before halftime. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed a 14-yard pass to Courtland Sutton to convert; the Broncos scored a touchdown three plays later; and they didn't trail again. It also helped launch the Broncos to a 3-0 start for Fangio's first wins in September in his tenure. -- Jeff Legwold


22. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 61.9% (Rank: 32)*
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 5.2% (Rank: 3)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 27.3% (Rank: 23)

Most notable fourth-down call: The Chargers and Eagles were tied at 24, and Staley faced fourth-and-1 at the Eagles' 28. He sent the offense out to pick up the first, but the Chargers let the clock run down and called timeout. Staley again sent the offense out; teams can't call consecutive timeouts, so it was clear the team was going for it. Justin Herbert ran the ball and got enough for the first down. Four plays later, Dustin Hopkins made the kick with :02 left to win the game. The call established Staley as a go-getter on fourth down and put the Chargers back on track in the AFC West. -- Shelley Smith

* Staley's league-worst WP sacrificed ranking can mostly be chalked up to being too aggressive for our model in going for it as opposed to attempting field goals against the Chiefs in Week 3. Without those plays, he would rank higher on this list.


23. Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars

Years covered: 2021
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 28.7% (Rank: 25)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 5.9% (Rank: 2)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 31.8% (Rank: 31)

Most notable fourth-down call: The game was tied 20-20 against Miami with five seconds to play, and the Jaguars had the ball on fourth-and-8 on the Miami 44-yard line in London. After calling timeout, Meyer and OC Darrell Bevell opted to call a play called "slider" instead of attempting a Hail Mary. It's a quick throw that would take only a few seconds and still allow the team to call a timeout before the clock expired. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Laviska Shenault, and Meyer called timeout with one second to play. Matthew Wright then kicked a 53-yard field goal, and the Jaguars won 23-20. That snapped a 20-game losing streak dating back to the team's victory over Indianapolis in the 2020 season opener. That's the second-longest losing streak in NFL history. -- Michael DiRocco


T-24. Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears

Years covered: 2018-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 29.3% (Rank: 26)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -2.9% (Rank: 20)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 23.4% (Rank: T-13)

Most notable fourth-down call: It was Week 11 of the 2021 regular season, and the Bears lead Baltimore 7-6 in the fourth quarter. Chicago was facing fourth-and-1 from their own 49-yard line. A comedy of errors ensued. First, the Bears sent the punt team on the field because Nagy's headset went out. Next, the Bears called a frantic timeout to get organized. The offense went back on the field and a direct snap to running back David Montgomery in the Wildcat package went for no gain. The Bears also got a holding penalty on the play that the Ravens declined. The Bears are usually a mess on fourth down, and that Sunday was no different. Plus, the playcall itself was very suspect. It seems over the years in these situations the Bears fail and end up costing themselves wins. That botched sequence of events sums up the past three years in Chicago.-- Jeff Dickerson


T-24. Ron Rivera, Washington Football Team

Years covered: 2020-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 32.5% (Rank: 29)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 3.2% (Rank: 6)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 27.5% (Rank: T-24)

Most notable fourth-down call: Washington faced a fourth-and-5 at the Carolina 43-yard line with 1:07 remaining in the first half and Carolina leading 14-7. With Carolina in man coverage, Washington used a bunch formation to the right. It led to some confusion in coverage for the Panthers, and quarterback Taylor Heinicke connected with wide-open WR DeAndre Carter on a crosser for an 18-yard gain. If Washington had failed, Carolina was in position to go up two scores entering the third quarter. Instead, Washington scored a tying touchdown. Its win probability went from 34.9% before the fourth-down play to 53.4% after the drive. -- John Keim


26. Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Years covered: 2019-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 23.8% (Rank: 15)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -3.6% (Rank: 21)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 27.6% (Rank: 26)

Most notable fourth-down call: In the 2020 NFC Championship Game, after a failed third-down conversion at the Packers' 45-yard line but still holding 14-10 lead, Arians originally sent the punt team out then called them back. "The clock was stopped and I said, 'No, we're going back out. We've got a good play. We're going back out and trying to get some points,'" Arians said at the time, burning the final timeout. On fourth-and-4, quarterback Tom Brady found running back Leonard Fournette for a 6-yard gain. Then with 8 seconds left, Brady hit wide receiver Scotty Miller for a jaw-dropping 39-yard touchdown as time expired to make it 21-10 at the half. It served as a stark contrast to Packers coach Matt LaFleur opting for a field goal on fourth-and-8 at the Tampa Bay 8-yard line with 2:09 to go, which made it 31-26, ultimately the final score. As Arians said, "We didn't come here to not take chances." -- Jenna Laine


27. Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 25% (Rank: 19)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -7.5% (Rank: 25)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 26.8% (Rank: T-21)

Most notable fourth-down call: Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter against Arizona in Week 5, the Niners quickly drove deep into Cardinals territory with a chance to tie it up. But quarterback Trey Lance was stopped at the goal line on fourth-and-goal at Arizona's 2-yard line. On the play, Lance took off for the right corner of the end zone but was greeted by multiple Cardinals and stopped just short. It was San Francisco's first red zone trip of the season that didn't result in a touchdown in a game the Niners would eventually lose by seven points. -- Nick Wagoner


28. Joe Judge, New York Giants

Years covered: 2020-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 31% (Rank: 28)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: 2.3% (Rank: 9)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 29.2% (Rank: 29)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 3 of this season, the Giants were trailing 7-6 and faced fourth-and-4 at the Atlanta 39-yard line in the third quarter. Judge decided to punt, which was a curious call for a team that was struggling to score points -- especially with Graham Gano being a big-legged kicker who can hit from long range. It showed that Judge, more often than not, leans toward conservative playcalling and values field position more than the possibility for points. -- Jordan Raanan


29. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 25.7% (Rank: 20)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -2.7% (Rank: 19)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 29.8% (Rank: 30)

Most notable fourth-down call: Trailing the Chiefs 21-17 in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 20, 2019, there was 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter with the ball on the Kansas City 10. New England running back Sony Michel took a handoff on fourth-and-1 and powered ahead for a 10-yard touchdown. The Patriots had all three timeouts, but the idea of playing for a field goal and defensive stop wasn't on Belichick's mind; the aggressive approach helped produce one of the most memorable wins in team history, because it came on the road in what was supposed to be a passing-of-the-torch type of game. The Patriots went on to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. -- Mike Reiss


30. Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 28.3% (Rank: 24)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -12.5% (Rank: 29)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 28.7% (Rank: 27)

Most notable fourth-down call: In Week 5 of the 2018 season at the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams were clinging to a 33-31 with 1:38 to play and facing fourth down on their own 42-yard line. The Rams punt team took the field before the Seahawks called a timeout. After the timeout, McVay opted to send his offense onto the field to go for it. With running back Todd Gurley in the backfield, quarterback Jared Goff kept the ball for a 2-yard sneak. Goff jumped to his feet and pumped his fist before he took a knee for the final two plays to secure a two-point win over their division rival. McVay's decision to go for it proved a trust in Goff and his offense to secure the game in a critical moment rather than opt to lean again on the defense. That vote of confidence from McVay, inside a hostile environment, proved critical as the Rams went on to win the NFC West that season and appear in Super Bowl LIII. -- Lindsey Thiry


31. Rich Bisaccia, Las Vegas Raiders

Years covered: 2021 (Weeks 6-12)
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 47.2% (Rank: 31)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -2% (Rank: 18)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 34.8% (Rank: 32)

Most notable fourth-down call: Already leading the Eagles 24-7 midway through the third quarter in Bisaccia's home debut -- his second game since replacing Jon Gruden -- the Raiders faced fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Quarterback Derek Carr, out of the shotgun, fired a quick slant pass to WR Bryan Edwards coming left to right, and Edwards -- bigger than a stereotypical slot receiver -- hauled it in for the TD to put the game away. -- Paul Gutierrez


32. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

Years covered: 2017-21
Win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors: 33.1% (Rank: 30)
Difference in expected vs. actual fourth-down conversions: -8.3% (Rank: 26)
Non-obvious fourth-down error rate: 28.9% (Rank: 28)

Most notable fourth-down call: Trailing 14-0 to the Jaguars in the first quarter of the divisional playoffs in January 2018, the Steelers drove the field and were knocking on the door of the red zone. Back-to-back runs by Le'Veon Bell put the Steelers about six inches short of the first down. Even with such a short distance to gain, the Steelers, under the direction of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, ran a toss sweep to Bell that got blown up by cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a loss of four yards. The Jaguars scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and put the Steelers in a 21-0 hole. Pittsburgh nearly climbed all the way back behind five touchdown throws from QB Ben Roethlisberger but ultimately exited the playoffs with a 45-42 loss. After another playoff trip without a Super Bowl berth, Mike Tomlin fired Haley in the days following the divisional loss. -- Brooke Pryor